Horizon:Kimitoasamade 2B Chapter 22
Chapter 22: Namers of a Decisive Place
Me and you
You and me
Yet we come together
Point Allocation (Circulation)
There was a fair amount of foot traffic in a nighttime long block.
Even though the residential and student districts were closed for the night, the transportation districts were preparing for after dawn and some businesses were busy throughout the night.
Cargo and people occasionally traveled down the underground Okutama long block. Suzu’s student bathhouse was there and there was a plaza in a square depression in front of it. The plaza used the floor of the movable barrier to an elevator lift that was not in use.
Two people were there: Naito and Naruze.
They sat on a bamboo bench bordering the plaza and they were drinking the paper cups of juice they had bought at a nearby vending machine, and…
“Sigh, too bad it’s too late to get some yakiniku, Ga-chan.”
“Don’t worry. That café’s yakitori stand gave us some food for free. …We should have eaten more at the Blue Thunder before going to Suzu’s bathhouse, though.”
The two of them grabbed the bamboo skewers of chicken from the paper bag and then ate the pizza sitting next to them.
The pizza was also from a café stand. It was known as a white pizza, so it used garlic sauce instead of tomato sauce and it did not use much cheese. After being cooked, it had lots of vegetables placed on top and then it was rolled up.
Maybe we didn’t need the chicken and garlic skewers, thought Naruze.
“Being delivery workers sure is convenient at times like this. We can move around at night and people give us discounts on food.”
“You’re right. But I kind of messed up at that pizza stand we heard was so good. I really wish I’d gotten one with tomato sauce.”
“There’s no helping that.” Naruze smiled a little. “We’re near Aki and K.P.A. Italia. Tomatoes are still a New World thing, so when we’re right next to the lead nation of the Catholics who are so anal about the history recreation, the shops are going to go along with that.”
“How naïve,” said a sudden woman’s voice.
And it was from right in front of them.
A woman holding a paper bag stood where no one had been a moment before.
She had wings. She was a 4-winged fallen angel. She gave them a somewhat examining look and Naruze looked up and called her name.
“Marine. …What’s this? Are you working?”
Naito saw Marine shake her head at Naruze’s question.
She looked to them and held up a rolled up pizza.
“I was, um, checking on today’s records at my favorite restaurant.”
She sounded hesitant and the pizza she held up was red. It used tomato sauce.
…Is that a special service for regulars?
Marine looked at what they held, shook her long chestnut hair, and tilted her head.
“Aren’t you two eating too much? Are you okay?”
“Some of us aren’t old ladies with a slowing metabolism.”
Naito appreciated that Naruze’s attitude never changed and so she asked a question of her own.
“Do you need something?”
“Y-yes,” said Marine as she looked up.
She smiled and seemed to be happy that she had their interest.
“W-will you fight me, Zwei Fräulein?”
“Why?” Naruze immediately added to her question. “We’re ranked below you. We’re #3. Since you’re #2, shouldn’t you be going after Wild Kamelie above you? So why would you target us instead? Y-you’re so mean… Sob, sob. Margot, she’s bullying us. She’s bullying us because we’re the new girls…”
“There, there, Ga-chan. You can cry into my boobs.”
It was incredible how readily she pretended to cry and clung to Naito.
Meanwhile, Marine completely fell for the fake crying.
“U-um, n-no, that wasn’t what I-…”
She would get taken advantage of so badly if she ran across Heidi, thought Naito as Naruze started to press her face into her chest. But…
“Hey, Ga-chan, you had sauce on your mouth before, so did you wipe that off?”
She looked up with her eyes closed, so Naito lowered her own head with both resignation (“Fine, then”) and joy (“Ohhh!”) in her heart.
Naito used her lips and tongue to clean off Naruze’s lips.
“Wow, Ga-chan. You’re really sticky and garlicky.”
“Heh heh. That actually rhymes.”
“Oh, Marine, you’re still here?”
“Judge,” she nodded while placing her feet on the plaza floor. She had been floating until then and that was just a normal action for her.
…She’s undergone quite a lot of training, hasn’t she?
For the winged races, the moment of takeoff was the most dangerous. They would spread their wings to build up wind, but the force of that would push them back and they would have to hold their ground.
…So you can’t move.
There were several tricks to freeing them from that motionlessness, but takeoff was still dangerous.
So once they took off, they would keep the wind in their wings and avoid landing for as long as possible.
That was a lot easier said than done and official training was needed to teach their body how to do it on a subconscious level.
…The #2 spot must be a lot of work.
As Naito thought that and looked her way, Marine spoke.
“I have a clear reason for this fight: Revenge for Almirante…”
“No,” immediately answered Naruze while pulling chicken skin on a skewer from the bag.
“What kind would you like?”
“Eh? I-I don’t eat chicken.”
“What a hopeless woman.” Naruze wrinkled her brow. “Listen. We get to choose if we want to fight or not, but we won’t let you have your revenge either way. Because we’ll be the ones to beat you.”
“Are you serious?”
Naruze did not answer that. She only gave the woman a sharp look.
Marine opened her mouth to say something, but…
She stopped, took a breath, and gathered strength in her shoulders once more.
Then she gave them a smile and spoke.
“Then I hope you’ll put in a good day’s work tomorrow as well.”
With that, she vanished. She had used the acceleration of her 4 wings, but…
…She can vanish without producing any noise or wind? How much skill does that take?
Naito’s shoulders drooped as she realized this was one more problem for them to deal with.
“We still have a problem left, don’t we?”
Inside a tatami-floored room, two futons were arranged facing a single futon.
This was Asama’s room inside the Asama Shrine. Three girls lay on the futons, two of which had been brought in for the guests. One of the girls was Kimi who had removed the ribbons from her hair.
“Then how about this? The Giant-Flat-Giants.”
“Rejected! Immediately rejected!” responded Mitotsudaira with a sign frame that already had several ideas jotted down. She raised her eyebrows. “Besides, that would put me in the center, wouldn’t it?”
“Eh!? You’re aware how flat you are!? How wonderful, Mitotsudaira! As a knight, you are truly a picture of flatvalry! I hope spending the night in the Lewd Asama Shrine will give you some dirty dreams in which your king rubs your throat and belly and then lets you mark him!”
“I will dream nothing of the sort!!”
“Now, now.” Asama looked at the ideas she had written on her own sign frame using handwriting conversion. “Coming up with a band name is not easy.”
Asama had to agree with Kimi’s question.
Back in Suzu’s bathhouse, everything had felt like it was going to work out, but…
…I never thought we’d be stumped at coming up with a name!
It was hard because of how different the 3 of them were. For example…
“Should we go for something in all kanji?”
“Wouldn’t that be a little off from Mitotsudaira’s image?”
“Sorry. And since I’m from Hexagone Française, English wouldn’t really work either…”
That said, French was hard to understand and didn’t seem to fit Asama’s image.
…But what is my image?
She tried asking.
“What exactly is my image?
“Well, a shrine maiden, black hair…and size. Yes, incredible size. That part’s important.”
“K-Kimi, go easy on her. Tomo is a shrine maiden, black hair…”
Mitotsudaira looked back to where Asama lay on the futon. She looked between the futon and the girl’s body.
“…And incredible size.”
“That settles it! Our band name is The Leader of Incredible Size and Her Partners!”
“Um,” cut in Mitotsudaira. “I’d really rather not just be a ‘partner’.”
Like that, nothing seemed to fit them all.
In the bathhouse, Asama had learned this did not need to be her first choice, but this was not a choice between her and others; it was a collective choice by the band.
And when she thought about it…
“Doesn’t the word ‘band’ come from the idea of ‘banding together’?”
“Then we’ll be the Giant Band!”
“Can we please get our mind off of breasts!?”
Asama agreed with Mitotsudaira on that one. But Kimi…
“What are you two talking about!? If it makes people laugh, we win!”
“Please spare me your insane logic.”
At any rate, she decided it might be best to combine their images together. Just by lining them up, they could bring out the individuality of all 3 of them.
“Then let’s try stating our image of the person next to us. Kimi will do Mito, Mito will do me, and I will do Kimi.”
“Heh heh. I see how you kept yourself safe there. But it’s not a bad idea. …Let’s do this.”
Asama saw Kimi describe Mitotsudaira with a serious look on her face.
Mitotsudaira’s eyebrows rose slightly and she opened her mouth while facing Kimi, but Kimi…
“You’re supposed to do Asama, remember?”
“O-oh, that’s right.”
Mitotsudaira’s brow remained somewhat wrinkled as she turned to Asama.
Taking Mitotsudaira’s current emotional state into account, she had clearly held back a lot. So Asama glared at Kimi and spoke on Mitotsudaira’s behalf.
Everyone hung their heads for 5 seconds until Kimi broke the silence.
“Since Asama goes in the center, our band name will be Crazy Cushion Canine!”
“The alliteration is kind of cute, but I’m not sure that would work.”
“No!” protested Mitotsudaira. “It most certainly would not work!”
“Then,” said Kimi. “Let’s reverse the order and start with Mitotsudaira! Ready, set, go!”
Mitotsudaira’s eyebrows rose and she looked to Kimi. When Asama gave an approving nod, she glanced over but quickly turned back to Kimi.
After some hesitation, she brought a hand to her forehead and answered.
Kimi nodded and looked to Asama.
“Let’s narrow it down to one trait.”
“You’re incorrigible… And don’t shout that.”
“Whispering it doesn’t change anything, so just stop.”
“Oh, come on,” said Kimi before Asama looked to Mitotsudaira.
Mitotsudaira cowered down when the other two girls looked her way.
“I-I am prepared for whatever you might say about me!”
“I’m not planning anything like that…”
At any rate, Asama needed a proper opinion, so she thought about it and gave a serious answer.
“My.” Surprise filled Mitotsudaira’s face. “I never thought you would say that, Tomo.”
“You thought I was going to say something awful, didn’t you!? Didn’t you!?”
But then Kimi counted on her fingers as she went over the words they had come up with.
“Our band name is Monster Boobs Princess Knight! Weirdly, that just sounds like the title of a porn game! Porororrrrn!!”
“Ignoring that weird attempt at a sound affect, that title makes it sound more like Mito is in the lead.”
“Can you not choose me as the lead of a porn game!?” Mitotsudaira lightly slapped one of the futons. “Our images for each other are just awful. Can’t you two come up with something positive? Yes, let’s all give a positive image of each other!”
“Okay,” said Kimi as she looked to Mitotsudaira. “Faithful hound. …That’s a positive image, right?”
“Kh,” groaned Mitotsudaira, but she had set the rules and so she looked to Asama.
“Good, good.” Asama nodded and turned to Kimi. “Lunatic.”
“Then our band name is the Faithful Hound Straitlaced Lunatics…”
“Wait, wait. That one isn’t getting any complaints?”
“It sounds kind of like a tokusatsu title…”
Kimi stood up and bent forward. She held her right arm down and her left arm up behind her.
“The Faithful Hound Straitlaced Lunatics have arrived!”
Mitotsudaira and Asama applauded.
“If we’re willing to take it that far, it might just work.”
“Really!?” protested Mitotsudaira. “Are you serious!?”
“And why are you two trying to compete with me?” asked Kimi. “If that’s what you want, I’ll take you on! In other words, I rise to the challenge when a threesome presents itself! Know what I mean!?”
“Quiet down,” said Asama. “That should have been enough for you to get it out of your system, so let’s try to take this seriously now. Let’s give a nice image of each other this time. Got that?”
“A-and couldn’t we add ‘girls’ onto the end of it?” suggested Mitotsudaira.
“Faithful Hound Straitlaced Lunatic Girls.”
“That’s way too long!!”
“Calm down, Mito. We’re almost at the exit.”
Asama looked to Kimi.
…A nice image…
She felt like anything would be the right answer here and yet also the wrong answer, but she did her best.
“Do you really mean that?”
“O-of course I dooo. Why wouldn’t IIIII?”
“Tomo! Tomo! The wound is still shallow, so don’t force yourself!”
But Kimi turned to Mitotsudaira with a smile.
She said it simply and was done.
Mitotsudaira blushed and turned to Asama.
“L-let’s not blush and fall silent, Mito!”
Mitotsudaira looked at Asama with her golden eyes. And…
Asama was truly glad Mitotsudaira did not finish saying that. Then they communicated via eye contact.
…Okay, okay! We can’t follow our usual habit of ending it on a joke!
…That’s right! I thought it would be best to take this seriously for once!
…Heh heh heh. The difference between a normal person and an entertainer is whether or not they chicken out like that!
At any rate, Mitotsudaira gave another word.
I see, thought Asama before lining up the words.
“The Wise Devout Righteous Girls.”
She tried saying it, but they all fell silent for around 10 seconds.
That one was heavy.
And after suffering through that stifling atmosphere…
“I can already imagine what will happen when we announce our band name: the entire theatre will fall silent except for our classmates who will fall out of their seats laughing. Does this mean I’ve been living my life wrong?”
“I will agree it sounds incredibly phony…” said Mitotsudaira.
“Doesn’t it sound a lot like the name of a political campaign team?” asked Kimi.
Maybe it does, thought Asama as she took a breath and gathered strength in her gaze.
“Let’s limit it to pretty words.”
“Only pretty words? That sounds like it would work.”
“What about things used to make things pretty?” asked Kimi.
“That’s fine. As long as it’s a tool of purification or cleaning.”
They all nodded and gave their answers in the following order: Mitotsudaira, Asama, Kimi.
“White.” “Ether.” “Tissue.”
They all fell silent. And after a while…
“White Ether on a Tissue? Is that a doujinshi?”
“Kimi! Kimi! That’s going too far!”
“But I did hear Naruze say that, since ether is energy, it’s useful for metaphors but you can’t use it in a more literal sense. After all, it can become a mysterious phenomenon or even burn you in some cases.”
Asama had a feeling their conversation was drifting off into the late night rules, so she got up.
“Oh, I thought I would make us something to eat.”
“I have a feeling this is going to take a while if we’re taking it seriously.”
Two sets of wings walked along the underground corridor of a wide block at night.
The wings were gold and black. They were Naito and Naruze. They walked side by side, but neither was looking at the other.
Naruze was drawing a storyboard on the Magie Figur by her hands and Naito was listening to music from the Magie Figurs on her ears. Naruze was selecting the lines she wanted from two sketches of busty girls from Suzu’s bathhouse placed three-dimensionally together and Naito was listening to a recording of everyone singing at the bathhouse.
Naruze could hear the music and voices, but…
Her partner did not respond. Margot was staring forward with her eyebrows somewhat raised. But Naruze smiled a little at how the girl was crossing her arms.
…She can be oddly manly at times.
Ever since parting ways with Marine earlier, her partner had been listening to the bath karaoke recording.
…Bust karaoke! That could work!
She jotted that idea down.
But then she spoke to the girl who looked somehow angry.
“Can you hear me?”
No response. So…
“Sorry about how I snapped back at Marine earlier. But…I couldn’t stand it. She seemed to think we wouldn’t even try to challenge her.”
No response. So…
No response. So…
“You have sauce on your mouth.”
She could hear her. But Naruze pulled a handkerchief out regardless.
“Margot, let me see your face.”
Naruze diverted the handkerchief away from the lips held out toward her.
The handkerchief had been a feint. She used her own lips instead. She placed her teeth on Naito’s lower lip and lightly bit down. Naito trembled in surprise, but she only pulled back a little bit.
She did not move away and that made Naruze happy.
Naruze then worked at eating the sauce on her partner’s lips.
With her lips around Naito’s lip, she could taste the girl’s flavor.
…Oh, green onion.
She laughed and so did Naito. Naito was probably tasting her garlic flavor, but as they swapped out their current selves…
Naruze grabbed the Magino Figur on Naito’s right ear and placed it on her own left ear.
That allowed them both to listen to everyone’s music and singing with their left ear.
This is fun, thought Naruze. I’m getting the sound meant for Margot’s right ear, but I’m listening to it with the same left ear as her.
But while she focused on her ear, her lips were sealed. And there was one thing she could tell:
…Kimi is a step above everyone else.
That was an expert for you.
But at the same time, Mitotsudaira’s ability to use her voice like a musical instrument was pretty decent.
Asama sounded like she was having fun.
At times she got confused, tried too hard, got the lyrics wrong, or screwed up her timing, but she had an even better handle on it each time her turn came around.
Yes, thought Naruze.
Change was good.
It was fun sticking to the usual and being unstoppable, but to have something like this required change.
Technohexen were a symbol of change. Since ancient times, they had turned iron into gold, turned water into wine, and ignored the laws of all things to turn them into something else. And in doing so, they had made people richer and saved them.
And that was why they had been persecuted by the Catholics who preferred stability and hated change. But…
“Fweh fwah fwoh fwah fweh.”
“Ga-chan, don’t talk while biting my lip.”
I have to. You ate all the green onion ones earlier.
I’ll let you have the garlic, so let me have yours.
She could tell her partner was worrying over something.
She could hear it.
People who they could call their friends were changing in their own unique ways.
The music they each heard in their left ear was like a knock at the door symbolizing the arrival of everyone’s change.
Mitotsudaira was currently singing. Naruze had thought that half-werewolf was only playing at chivalry, but this song made it clear that she was seriously trying to run down that path despite immersing herself in it too much. She could seem to be full of herself, but that was no different from an entertainer.
Someone who did not think highly of herself could never get others to think the same and praise her.
…I think Kimi said that once.
Meanwhile, it seemed that their king was infatuated with a girl. But…
Some aspects of this were not certain, but if it was all “true” and they acted on it, things were going to get interesting. That idiot was like a living embodiment of actions speaking louder than words, so Mitotsudaira and Asama would have some difficult times ahead of them. Even if that idiot placed “her” by his side…
When Naito embraced Margot, she could tell.
You could do more with people than have them “by your side”. And people had more than one “side”. Just like people had a right and left ear, there were open areas and each one had its own role. So…
…Could it be?
Naruze thought about Kimi. She did not go out of her way to speak with that girl. If anything, she kept her guard up lest she fall prey to that girl. But…
…How far into the future is she looking?
I might be mistaken about this, she decided even as she thought about the future and realized she was getting distracted.
I can’t be rude, thought Naruze as the flavor left her lips. And then she breathed a heated sigh.
They both laughed, but they did not let go of the music or each other. They were still right in front of each other when Naito spoke.
“…Maybe I’ve been conceited.”
Naito saw her partner close her eyes, leave her smile only on her lips, and open those lips to speak.
“We’ll be fine even if that happens.”
“…I’ve never gone on an adventure,” said Naito.
“Don’t worry. Neither have I.”
“…Should I give this my best shot?”
“I’ll be right there with you, so don’t worry.”
“Then,” said Naito. “Let’s beat Marine, kick Wild Kamelie’s butt, and become Edel Brocken testers.”
“Not ‘let’s try to’?”
“It’ll work out. Since we’re together.”
With a “judge”, Naito and Naruze held each other tightly and pressed their right cheeks together.
They used the vibration of each other’s skulls so their right ear could hear the music coming from the Magie Figur on the other’s left ear. And they also heard the other’s pulse from their temple.
“We’re hearing the same thing,” said Naito.
“Let’s reword that. Not let’s do all that.”
She once more embraced her precious partner as if letting the girl sink into her. And she felt the strength of Naruze accepting it and holding her tighter as well.
Then Naruze nodded and spoke as they rubbed their pulses together.
“We can do all that. So don’t worry.”
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